El Niño Could Cause Wet, Warm Winter

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A condition right now in the tropical Pacific Ocean called an “el niño,” where sea-surface temperatures south and southeast of Hawaii are much warmer than normal, is contributing to thunderstorms that affect weather all the way up to Alaska.

Rick Thoman is the climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service Alaska region. Thoman says those thunderstorms are huge and extend twelve miles in the atmosphere.

“And they pump lots of moisture and transfer lots of energy into the upper levels of the atmosphere that spiral away from the equator and greatly influence the jet stream as it circulates around the world, and that’s how warm sea surface temperatures south of Hawaii can influence our weather.”

That includes the Kodiak region.

Thoman says in the past, moderate and strong el niños have had a tendency to lead to a wet late fall and winter.

“And certainly it looks like we’re seeing already the impacts of that after the very dry summer in Kodiak, precipitation during October has rebounded nicely and running now above normal, and odds favor that that pattern will continue through the winter and into our early part of spring at least.”

And Kodiak is likely to move into another temperate season.

Thoman says early this fall he expects much of Alaska to have warmer than normal temperatures, especially in the eastern area, with chances decreasing the farther west you go.

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